MLS extends training ban until March 27 due to coronavirus outbreak

MLS has extended its moratorium on team training sessions to March 27 due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the league announced on Friday.

The previous moratorium was due to expire on Friday, March 20. The training moratorium applies to first-team training, reserve teams and academies.

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MLS released a statement on Friday, saying: "During this time, MLS players are expected to remain in each club's respective market and have been advised to exercise safe social distancing measures. At this time, team training facilities may only be accessed for physical therapy purposes at the direction of club medical staff to ensure adherence to safety protocols."

Unlike the suspension of the season, which now extends until May 10, MLS has opted to extend the training moratorium in short-term increments. Part of this is due to how quickly the situation related to COVID-19 is evolving. Earlier this week, a member of the Seattle Sounders support staff tested positive for the virus. On Thursday, a member of the New York City FC sporting department also tested positive.

The league is unsure when the moratorium will be lifted but expects that its teams will ease into a resumption of training. Teams will first hold individual workouts for players, and then, if all goes well, progress to full-team workouts.

MLS first instituted the moratorium on March 13, with a subsequent extension to March 20.

The statement added: "MLS remains in close contact with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC] and the Public Health Agency of Canada [PHAC] on this continually evolving situation and will provide further updates as they become available."

The coronavirus, officially known as COVID-19, is a new strain of coronavirus that has surged around the globe in recent months. The coronaviruses are a family of viruses that cause illnesses ranging from the common cold to more serious respiratory diseases. Flu is caused by a different virus. There is no vaccine for coronavirus, though researchers are working on one and hope to begin testing soon.

Older people, especially those with chronic illnesses such as heart or lung disease, are most at risk. The coronavirus spreads mainly through coughs and sneezes, though it also can be transferred from surfaces. The best way to prevent infection is by frequent hand-washing, cleaning surfaces with regular household sprays and wipes, and avoiding close contact with people who are sick.